A RAP group in Thailand are using music to vent their frustrations with the state of political discourse in the country, with a song accusing the military junta of dictatorship.
The song, entitled “Prathet Ku Mee”, or “Which is my country” in English, was posted to YouTube on Oct 22 and has received over 17 million views at the time of writing. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with almost 720,000 likes to only 16,000 thumbs down.
Written and performed by a collective of 10 rappers called, Rap Against Dictatorship, the song attacks the administration and junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha.
“The country where you must choose to either eat truth or bullets,” one rapper says, with his face covered.
They reference the military coup, saying: “Charter is written and erased by the army’s boots.”
“The country where the people do not read books, particularly the leader,” one says, in reference to Prayuth and his bragging about being well read.
The military regime took over in 2014 in a coup that unseated a democratically elected government.
At the time, they promised to restore democracy within the year, but have continually delayed elections, citing national security.
A general election has now been set for February 2019, but political activities – including campaigning – have been strictly limited by Prayuth and his generals.
Dissent of any kind has been under tight restrictions, with bloggers and activists being imprisoned under the controversial Computer Crime Act.
Siriwat Deephor, the police spokesman for the Technology Crime Suppression Division, told AFP the song was “under consideration by investigators” but said charges have not yet been filed.
It is not just the rappers themselves who could be targeted by law enforcement. Those who shared video may also be penalised.
“If this song violates the Computer Crime Act by uploading false information, those who share would be prosecuted and face the same punishment with those who uploaded it,” Siriwat said.
The Act carries a maximum sentence of five years.
Despite disavowing any political ambitions when he seized control in 2014, Prayuth signalled last month he would be “interested” in a political position but it is not clear if he will run in the upcoming general election.
The leader has been making trips to rural areas of Thailand in visits that have the appearance of campaign stops. His backers have also been rallying support among pro-military political parties to support Prayuth should he run for office.
The junta declared it would reform politics and rid the country of corruption, but there has been mounting criticism of its heavy-handed approach and shrinking civil space.
Jacoboi, one of the rappers behind the song and video, told AFP they weren’t saying anything that regular Thais weren’t already discussing.
“They are the things we heard people say on social media and in real life,” he said.
“I’m not afraid of the authorities because I believe that nothing in this song has breached the law.”